The Bottom Line:

– The San Francisco Giants defeated the St. Louis Cardinals on Friday night by the score of 5-0 to bring the National League Championship Series back to the Bay Area. The Cardinals now lead the series, 3-2.

– Giants starting pitcher Barry Zito pitched 7.2 scoreless innings, giving up six hits and one walk while striking out six. Zito threw 18 of 29 first pitch strikes en route to the victory. He combined with Santiago Casilla and Sergio Romo to throw a shutout against one of the best lineups in the league.

– Zito performed much better than opposing starter Lance Lynn, who pitched a great first three innings and struck out six in his outing. As Lynn did in Game 1 of the NLCS, he gave up just one baserunner before the fourth inning and then gave up four runs in the fourth. This time, the cause was Lynn’s throwing error.

– The Giants brought nine batters to the plate in the fourth inning, scoring four unearned runs. Marco Scutaro began the rally with a single and Pablo Sandoval also followed with a single. Then after Lynn struck out Buster Posey, the turning point of the game happened. Hunter Pence grounded the ball back to Lynn and he tried to throw it to second base. However, Lynn’s throw hit the bag and traveled into center field, scoring one run. Later in the inning, with the bases loaded, Brandon Crawford singled to bring in two runs making the score 3-0. To everyone’s surprise, with men on first and third, Zito bunted down the third base line on the second pitch of his at-bat. David Freese was playing too far back at third base and Zito reached, pushing across San Francisco’s fourth run of the night.

– Sandoval began the eighth inning with a solo home run off of Mitchell Boggs to make the score 5-0. With the Cardinals’ inability to threaten in the second half of the game, this homer to right field put the game out of reach.

MISSED OPPORTUNITIES: In both the second and fourth innings, the Cardinals got leadoff hits, but could not bring those runners home. In the second inning, Yadier Molina singled up the middle and Freese doubled to right. With second and third and no out, the raucous Busch Stadium crowd of over 47,000 was expecting some St. Louis scoring. Unfortunately, birthday boy Daniel Descalso struck out swinging. Zito intentionally walked Pete Kozma to load the bases and then induced an inning-ending double play from Lynn. In the fourth inning, after the Giants had plated four runs in the top half, Allen Craig started the bottom of the fourth with a double down the left field line. Molina moved Craig over to third with a groundout, but then Freese lined out and Descalso grounded out. What a frustrating night it was for the Cardinals offense.

TREVOR ROSENTHAL: Cardinals rookie pitcher Trevor Rosenthal was fantastic yet again tonight, pitching two perfect innings and striking out four Giants. In the postseason, he has thrown 6.2 scoreless innings and has only given up one hit and one walk. Rosenthal is great for St. Louis to have in their already strong bullpen. Look for him to be a huge part of the 2013 Cardinals.

What’s Next: The Cardinals travel to San Francisco to face the Giants in the sixth game of the NLCS on Sunday with the first pitch at 6:30 pm central time. The game can be seen on FOX and as always, pre and post game information can be found on CardsBlog. Go Cards.

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